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tv   American Artifacts Motor City Exhibit  CSPAN  October 11, 2019 10:29pm-10:55pm EDT

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we are at the troy historical museum, detroit has been the motor city capital of the world since at least 1915 when they're over 42 companies making cars and another 75 companies making parts, so we have been like other towns, we build lots of cars, prior to 1900 the detroit area enjoyed a
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wealth of strong manufacturing, a lot of it based in the building of carriage bodies but also in building iron stoves and railroad cars and wield, so detroit understood the manufacturing process but they also understood had a steel and iron and wood and rubber. detroit had all of those talents right here in the designers and tool makers in the that in talk to make an automobile. so why don't we go inside and see the first car to travel on the street of detroit. >> so what we are looking at here looks very much like an old-fashioned right again, we just don't have a horse in front of, it in fact horses are sitting inside the vehicle, it is a motorized carriage, horseless, carriage this is the first to operate on the streets of detroit, charles brady king was the guy who designed this
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car and design the engine that went inside of, it it's an unusual engine, four cylinders at the time people were using single or double cylinder engine, so powerful little vehicle. so charles brady kang and his body who helped him with the engine drove this around the streets of detroit in 1896, henry ford was there and he was in a bias go about 20 feet behind chasing him. so starting in the 1880s people start to understand that you could take a steam engine or a nasa engine and apply it to an automobile, electricity was used to do that, electric cars existed before gasoline engines but a gentleman from grand rapids developed a gasoline powered engine and took it to the colombian exhibition in 1893 in chicago and he showed it off to everybody and a lot of guys from detroit from
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chicago, milwaukee, cleveland, all these people saw this gasoline engine and all of the sudden the gasoline engine became the most powerful way to power cars. and the biggest problem was the lack of decent roads, the bicycle for, people who enjoyed riding bicycles had started a movement called the good roads movement to make the roads better, so bicyclists kind of got some of the roads paved but once you got outside of the city center what downtown detroit which have been just a mile or two outside the real core of the city you were back on country roads and in detroit it's -- if it rains you are in, trouble that was the biggest challenge for early motorists, they were constantly getting stuck in the mud, charles brady cake went on to start the king automobile company and he put out a number of cars most of them are hand builds any hadn't adopted the
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assembly line yet and eventually he sold that company out and went to other, things in fact when the 50 anniversary of his writes down the streets of detroit come out he had this replica built so that people could see a many drove this car down the middle of town to show up what was his big invention just the year before, so what you are looking at here is the 1903 old curve dash, made by ransom in detroit, he had started a company and was one of the very first to get in the manufacturing business, unfortunately his factory burned down just as he was about to go in production on several different models, the only one that survived was the curve dash, he started producing it in 1901 in a really became the first mass produced automobile, he figured out the assembly line, something most that canada henry ford with and assembly
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lines from other products that we've reduced and in detroit's case they learned a lot from the chicago stock areas where they used assembly learns to disassemble wheat, and he was able to get a path and on the assembly line, he brought into detroit and he started mass producing the -- it became the most popular and one of the most affordable early cars in detroit and in the united states. while he started his old motor works here in detroit he eventually lost the company and it became an offshoot of the general motors organization which has been formed about this time, general motors renamed the company which again was a popular brand in the united states for many decades. and not to be out down return to his hometown and started rio automobiles, most people would
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probably recognize that from the speedway again model that he produced and a name that was adapted by band in the 1970s. there were a number of companies that were trying to get going at the time, charles brady king was trying to get his company going, there was another company making beautiful luxury automobiles prior to 1910, curiously both of those companies who are out of business hours the rest of detroit's automobile business started growing, growing very quickly. henry ford stumbled through it, you had three different companies, the first to kind of went out of business, the first one went really out of business and the second one was taken away from him and eventually adapted into the cattle active motor company, so his third company, he started helping several different models not far from this museum. and each one of them had a
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letter denomination in so he was doing different alphabets and got to the model tee but it was a long time coming before the business manager said henry you have a good car here and let's market it and let's sell it and he did and they actually made most of the model ts just north of the museum here and they were turning out thousands and millions of cars during that decade and there was a point in 1950 and 21 half of the automobiles on the road were made by the forward motor company so by the time henry ford was making model ts another company was starting up and decided it was a great idea some companies were not necessarily involved in automobile manufacturing and the folks who read the detroit news decided to start their own
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company and the guys who had the biggest music store decided to start an automobile company the hudson company the large department store think me seeds they decided to start its own auto manufacturer with them at the lead of that and hudson motors was a hard charging leader of the automobile industry and in 1915 they had 42 manufacturing companies making automobiles and another 70 saw making parts and we also saw in the latter part of hot of organizations coming together in general motors was buying up companies and ford had kind of consolidated his plan in highland park and was
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developing the rouge plant that became the largest industrial manufacturing facility in the world and we also had walter who is picking up the maxwell and coordinating those into the brand so two of the three of them really got to the top and they are eventually became the big three the loader company general motors. prior to the turn of the last century brought in many immigrants, mostly from western europe and they settled here and they took good jobs and they help build the industries that they were involved in, following the turn of the 19 century we had quite an influx of people from mediterranean countries, from eastern europe that really help build detroit and to this wonderful melting pot of various neighborhoods, polish
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neighborhoods, serbian, lithuanian, russian, hungarian. there are lots of folks that were living amongst each other and working in car companies, the rouge plant was the tower of the battle because there are so many different languages. many of those people who came here they settled and their families had worked in the plans for years, many generations, one after another. in the 1920s, 1930s the great migration brought both white and black workers into the factory arena, black workers tended to be in a third year and tougher jobs, and we all works, the white workers tended to get the assembly line and jobs, during world war ii much of this changed, a lot of younger guys took off to go fight in the war in the whole
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process within the plant started to include older workers, started to include women and handicapped workers and there was a real change in the dynamic on the factory floor. this dynamic is reflected today and the people that are still working in the business, we still have immigrants coming into detroit to work in the automobile it business or the suppliers and started here or had satellite offices here because of the strength of the automobile business. detroit is still a very dynamic town as far as the folks who live here and the different backgrounds and it's really given detroit a stronger community, sometimes there is battles, sometimes there is a lack of acceptance, but overtime we work to get through those problems. what we see behind me here now is an assembly line, a real assembly line, this is the body drop
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portion of the cattle ask assembly plant, when the -- closed they donated this and they brought into the museum, set it, up and you can now watch an actual 19 seventies era body drop in operation. the assembly line was an idea that had been established, the trade manufacturers really took advantage of it, they took advantage of it to a wonderful degree, forward had efficiency experts that came in made sure that his moving assembly line was the most efficient way to make a car. they took the number of hours necessary to build an automobile from somewhere near 30 down to two, who is a tremendous change and it made it possible for henry ford, who started selling his models to bring it back to 500 dollars so immediate much more affordable for the normal
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working man to get a automobile. while the assembly line was great for the manufacturing process, for actually turning it out, quickly assembly lines were very tough on the workers who had to be in the factories, the factories themselves change and when the automobile business got started here most of the factories were kind of built along the new england will style of architecture, they found now is not gonna work for all of the oil that was going, on from the big heavy machinery that they needed, they needed a different kind of architecture and albert became the foremost industrial architect in the united states by building a feasible floor planned for automobile plants, they got a big in the assembly line took over these big plans and they would employ thousands of people, highland park we have the great hearts where every
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year the number of people working there goes up to about 10,000 where he ends up having 50,000 working and one major plant, these people are working hard, it's dangerous, work it's very repetitive, they're doing the same thing every, day today they kind of trying to change up jobs, they come up with ergonomic ways of designing the machinery, back than it was none of that. initially these jobs paid living wages but then henry ford decided that one of the best things he could do if he wanted to get the best workers was to raise the wages and in 1915 he instituted what was known as the five dollar a day wage, now not everybody got five dollars a, day you had to be a very good worker, you had to sign some papers and agreed to do some things, forward would actually send people out to look at your house and make sure that you are living in good conditions and were taking care of your children and maybe even going to church. so the five dollar a day wasn't for
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everyone, but it really did change the dynamics of working in detroit, most purse -- when people heard about the jobs they started flowing into town to take, them initially people who got those jobs were very often people who worked in the industry, they might have worked in this stove industry, the ship, industry and because they automobile jobs paid better they were pulling workers away from those industries to the dust from into other industries. and the 19, 20 1924, period the federal government shutdown in immigration and they put a closure on, it and they made it harder for automobile companies to get those valuable employee so they were starting to recruit down south. they were going to the appalachian area, recruiting whites and they were pulling blacks off the scrabble farms down georgia and mississippi and bringing those folks up here, that very much
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change the dynamic of the city of detroit, we had a large number of immigrants, many of whom didn't speak english, were first generation english speakers, we also had a lot of blacks and whites from the south you brought some of their own baggage with, them some of it was, good the music, the food, some of the other baggage not so great, of course the united states had a long history of racial discrimination and in the 1920s the people, the lights would come out of the appalachian states and brought that with them and detroit had a huge contingent of the ku klux klan, probably second only into the southern states and we were the northern stronghold. they would have marches that would include 10,000 people in white, robes they would burn crosses on the front lawn of the courthouse, they really help get a little then mayor elected, there was
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some serious baggage they came with those folks and it took many years until well after world war ii the we started to address some of those issues and some of them we are still living with today, labor unions are a voice, a source of protection, the formation of unions within automobile manufacturers and plants came late they were enough immigrants here in detroit and coming in constantly that it was easy to replace either for workers or workers who fought the operation for pay and is often things like that, most workers work six days a week and sometimes would even go in for the seventh day for extra money, it was during the depression when the times were toughest that really the automobile manufacturing.
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the un that they knew what was wrong with the manufacturing, both from the pace standpoint and just ways of doing things, better these things turned to battles, they turn to fights that involved clubs, we have a couple of clubs that were part of the library across the
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street and these were basically automobile parts that were off tibia weapons in these are the things that the dice, the union guys were fighting back, shutting down these plants and saying unless we get what we need you are not going to get your cars, eventually cooperation became the by word and during a 19 fifties and sixties the automobile union started working with the union corporations, the automobile workers, the union started supporting african american and white workers in the same plant, they started getting cooperation from the plans, as far as how things can run better and today the uaw folks, the team, stirs the people working in the plants and the executives, unions are now
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partners from the manufacturing process, the auto industry today in detroit is so much different than it was 50 years ago, 50 years ago almost all the cars in north america rebels here in michigan, now they are built around the, world they are built in other countries and states, they are are foreign countries building in this area, many of the companies that now reside in destroyed our from japan or germany, they bring their technology here, of the big three, general motors and chrysler, little it is now owned by an italian company, there is been a real changed in the nature of the business as far as manufacturing goes, the profit margins are so thin, efficiencies in design and manufacturing officials in cities and sale practices, all those things have to be well refined for a company to remain viable. detroit has always had
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ups and downs in the automobile industry and we became a one trick pony as far as where we've hung our hats on and when there is a recession in the first thing people go by is an automobile, we always say that if the country catches a cold the country catches pneumonia, the last session was really tough on detroit, the company had kind of see the cope unbelievably renewable to write it out. they had to declare bankruptcy in order to survive and get a bail out from the united states taxpayers, that was pretty tough on both the egos and the outlook of people in detroit so tied to the automobile industry, of course there has been tremendous rebound and detroit is really doing quite well, detroit or's are kind of a different animal, we have dealt with these ups and downs incredibly resilient,
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people who love cars love cars and there's an ingenuity and kind of an intuition about how an automobile should be made, what it should do for you, there is this whole new world with autonomy is vehicles in a return to either hybrids or electric, it's really exciting so it's an exciting time to be in the automobile -- there is no better way to watch the automobile business then here in detroit.
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karen manufacturing in the city is very important to us, that industry is one of the back

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